Liverpool were so convinced in Darwin Nunez’s ability they paid a club-record fee of £85m to sign the striker from Benfica. His inconsistent performances last season raised questions over the Anfield club’s investment, but occasional flashes of brilliance reminded Jurgen Klopp of the reason he signed Nunez in the first place.
Nunez’s match-winning performance against Newcastle United highlighted how he could be a key player for Liverpool this term and his display for Uruguay against Chile in 2026 World Cup qualification made clear how Marcelo Bielsa’s coaching could push him to an even higher level for club and country.
Bielsa has made an instant impact as Uruguay’s new manager with La Celeste starting 2026 World Cup qualification with a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Chile. Nunez didn’t find the back of the net, but played an important role and gave Uruguay good balance in the final third of the pitch.
Uruguay under Bielsa are a high-energy, high-intensity team tailor-made to play to Nunez’s strengths. Against Chile, they repeatedly moved from possession phases into transition with ease which allowed the Liverpool striker to find space and contribute two assists. It opened up his all-round game.
Of course, Bielsa is a legendary coach. He is revered around the world and big things are expected of him as Uruguay boss. The country boasts a number of top level players including Fede Valverde, Ronald Araujo and Nunez and Bielsa’s style of play should be a good fit ahead of the 2026 World Cup.
Liverpool are also going through something of a transition. Klopp has rebuilt large portions of his midfield and attack with the likes of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho all departing Anfield over the last year or so. Nunez was one of the younger players signed to push Liverpool into a new generation.
Klopp generally likes his teams to play in quick transition, but the German has recently demonstrated an eagerness to give Liverpool a more solid basis on the ball. He wants the Reds to move closer to the style of play professed by Pep Guardiola as Manchester City manager. This is why the midfield has been such a focus for him this summer.
While Nunez isn’t the most comfortable in possession, his ability to provide an outlet in behind stops Liverpool from becoming too congested in the centre of the pitch. This is something Bielsa has recognised with the 24-year-old also utilised to good effect as the first line of the press when out of possession. He is learning a lot from the former Leeds United boss.
“Bielsa showed me some of my games and corrected some things that seem positive to improve,” Nunez explained when asked how the new Uruguay manager is already sharpening certain areas of his game. “He tells me to run behind the second centre-back so they lose my position. It was a very good talk. He seemed like a good guy to me and a serious guy.”
Great players are often moulded by great coaches. Nunez has been fortunate enough to work under Klopp for a full season and can now look forward to learning from Bielsa at international level. There is overlap between Bielsa and Klopp’s view of football and Nunez could find himself in the centre of their managerial Venn diagram.
Nunez is still a work-in-progress. He has the physical attributes to become one of the best centre forwards in the world, but the technical side of his game could do with some refining. That could happen under Klopp or it could happen under Bielsa. Either way, Liverpool will benefit. This could be a turning point for Nunez.